When school becomes more demanding, with assignments, homework, and tests piling up, it can sometimes be difficult to remember the simple things, like going to bed at a reasonable hour or maintaining healthy eating habits. On top of that, dealing with mental health issues such as depression can make these routine acts seem even more impossible to achieve. Self care is always important, but it is during these times that taking care of your mind and body becomes crucial. Below are some self care tips; while they may seem insignificant, these tips can make a lot of difference.
Maintain good hygiene and habits. Keeping your body clean can lead to a healthy mind. Take showers/baths regularly, brush your teeth, wash your face. However, it may take too much energy to bring yourself to do the simplest tasks, so even using dry shampoo, deodorant, mouthwash and face wipes can help you feel refreshed.
Keep your space clean. A messy room and/or work space is anything but helpful when you’re feeling down and stressed. Whichever space you spend the most time in, be sure that you keep it organized and comfortable. If you’re too tired to tackle the whole thing at once, give yourself the goal of clearing one corner of the room at a time. Even just stacking up a pile of books or filing some loose papers into a folder can make you feel more in control of your space.
Organize your work. If you have a mountain of work that you need to get through, and you’re overwhelmed, split everything up into smaller tasks. For example, if you have to write an essay, give yourself a set amount of time to write out each paragraph/argument by creating a checklist, and be sure to take breaks once you’ve finished a section. That way you’ve broken up a big assignment into smaller pieces that seem more manageable, and let’s be real -- checking off boxes after all your hard work is extremely satisfying.
Express yourself. This can be in any way, shape or form that works best for you. If you find that your creativity has been stunted lately, remember what inspired you before. This could be an artist, a song, a movie, or really anything else. Do some art while allowing yourself to make mistakes and remembering that it does not have to be perfect.
Start a journal. Write, draw, collage, make lists, or anything else to capture the good moments in your life. These don’t always have to be big either; moments like bumping into an old friend at a coffee shop or watching an episode of your favourite show are moments that can make a big difference when you’re going through a tough time.
Confront your problems. Yes, this is one of those ‘easier said than done’ things, but, as hard as confrontations can be, the buildup can actually be more nerve wracking. Take a deep breath, then a leap of faith, and talk to your friend about something that has been bothering you for a while or tackle that math problem you’ve been avoiding for hours. Trust me, you’ll feel a weight lift off your chest.
Take a mental health day. Sometimes, it can be hard to pull yourself out of bed in the morning. Maybe you were up late working on an assignment or couldn’t sleep because you were nervous for an upcoming test. Maybe it’s just been a long string of stressful, emotionally draining days. If so, it may be beneficial to take a day off to recharge. Just make sure that you don’t have anything big going on at school (like a presentation or test) and ask one of your friends to take notes for you so you don’t fall behind.
Reconsider some of the platitudes we often dismiss. They may help once given a second thought. Some favourites are as follows:
Love yourself. This phrase, that may be considered synthetic and overused to the point of meaning nothing, reveals a necessary truth. We’re well aware that love can manifest itself in different ways: familial, platonic, romantic. One form of love, despite being a key component of one’s mental well being, is often times neglected and not attributed as much importance as the rest. While it is important to spread positivity and love to the world around you, it is equally important to give yourself the same, well-deserved attention.
Just do it. Nike has a point. You may think that spending time doing anything other than school work or other structured activities is time wasted, but honestly, sometimes it’s necessary. Giving yourself a break after a stressful week is not a sign of being a lazy student. Cancelling plans with someone when you are too emotionally drained is not a sign of being a bad friend. Self care should by no means be considered selfish.
Treat yo’self. Any fan of the TV show Parks and Recreation will recognize this as a term that two characters, Donna and Tom, created to indicate the one day a year they spend pampering themselves. While Donna and Tom do this in the form of spending an outrageous amount of money on material goods, you can treat yourself in other ways. Make an ice cream sundae and spend the afternoon watching cartoons and movies. Lie down and take a nap. Read a new book, or an old favourite. Bake some cookies while listening to your favourite album. And, always remember to take care of yourself in order to more towards a balanced life and foster your mental wellbeing.